Stuff I Did in March, Part Three: Asking for Help

I was bursting with responses to Nissetje’s post as I poured words into his comment box. Then I recalled a WordPress principle guiding us bloggers to resist leaving long comments, and to reblog the inspiring post instead with our response. So here’s what I would like to say to him:

Weather is a Good Place to Start

Have you had the crazy weather that we had this year? So far, April has been more like winter than February was.

2016-03-27 Front Yard
Our purple crocuses bloomed a week early

2016-04-03 Front Yard
Our yard one week later — no, this is not a black-and-white photo

I was hoping to get out and prune our grapevines, and fix our garden fence now that Spring seems to have resumed, but I’m laid up with a damaged knee. I was playing with my weaving yarns, crouched, and when I went to spring back up, I felt like my knee went out of joint. It was a familiar feeling. I backed down like a recoiled spring, and then got up, putting as little weight on the knee as possible, and felt relieved that I had escaped a mishap. My knee just felt a little numb, so I found lots of reasons to go up and down flights of stairs to help heal it.

After supper, when I stood up, ZING! My knee had swelled, and pain set in. So, I took good care of myself and rested in bed all day with my knee elevated. Staying in bed for this hurt knee is a lot easier for me to do than staying in bed waiting for a depression to pass . Then, I’m more inclined to get up and push myself, and I push myself into a deeper depression.

What’s Looming on the Horizon

When I read about your weaving, you reminded me that I must stay in bed for another day or so before I can return to my loom.

Painted Warp
My loom, missing my attention

I had overlooked the possibility that my knee injury would interfere with my work in my studio! Now I’m even more motivated to rest and elevate my knee. My studio is one of my lifelines! Like you say, “a doodle a day keeps the crazy away”.

I know something about what you’ve been going through, and you’ve been going through a lot in a short time. Just one or two of those broken relationships would send anyone reeling. You’re right to cling to happy thoughts about Spring coming, expecting sun, connecting with friends and your Good Animal Voice, remembering your art, enjoying your dogs and walks, choosing healthy foods, continuing learning, staying employed, valuing your intelligence and creativity, supporting the healthy parts of you, having a safe comfortable place…

You sounded discouraged about feeling glued to your couch. My jury is still out on whether bingeing on movies and junk food for a few (or several) weeks is a bad thing. The worse that I feel about it, the more vulnerable I am to it. In other words, I’m practicing not being depressed about being depressed. I’m choosing to see a depressed episode as a time for rest from the pressures that I put on myself (which I could easily blame others for).

What’s My Line?

How fantastic that you were able to pull yourself together to get to where you needed to go to get back on meds. I hope that you are continuing to progress. I know how sometimes all of the planets have to be aligned just so, etc., before that can happen. After all, how can we have the courage to expose ourselves to the likelihood of side effects when we’re already teetering on the edge? I know what it’s like to want to take a temporary break from the effort of life, and feeling too overwhelmed to do anything about it. These episodes usually come along with fuzzy cognition, so I can’t think my way through it, and am surprised when someone close to me can prompt me, like an actor who forgets the next line.

Stage Fright

I upped one of my meds the other day when my therapist pointed out that I’ve been doing relatively well, and that only lately my moods have been more erratic. I have a love/hate relationship with meds. I am generally drug-adverse; most had unbearable side effects, usually making my illnesses worse. Lamotrigine is one that has worked out well for me, as long as I fluctuate the dose according to my mood. Too much, and I’m flying; too little, and I’m bouncing up and down and back, sometimes (lately) over the course of a few hours.

I hope that the side effects are working their way out as your body adapts to this medication. If not, then I hope that you got back to your NP in a timely manner so you can use Plan B, or find a Plan C. You are doing great keeping a conversation going with your pharmacist and NP through the side effects! And you’re doing great distinguishing your own Good Animal Voice from the voices of others who deny your experiences, perceptions and feelings.

I discovered Andrew Johnson’s meditation recordings recently on his website, Spotify, and phone apps. They help me reset my thoughts and feelings most of the time. I wonder if you might find them helpful.

Mind Cancer

Around a year ago, I took the ACES (Adverse Childhood Experiences Score). Most people get a score of around 1. Over 4, and there is a strong correlation with being suicidal, and other serious chronic diseases. I had a perfect score of 10, or 8, depending on the version of the test, and how the questions are interpreted (do I have concrete evidence that the events actually occurred?). That helped me to realize that I have something like brain cancer: my brain was probably physically damaged when I was a young child in stressful situations — but I’m resilient. Even as a young child, I had a strong voice inside me that said, “if childhood is this awful, then adulthood is going to be great!”, and it is!

I hope that something that I shared here helps you to see how strong you are, and helps more people to understand what we go through.

P.S. Thanks for sharing the “mind cancer” phrase.

 

Image credits:
photos by Grace Buchanan
stage fright image, by Victor Jeg. Used under Creative Commons License BY-2.0.

Barking Back

Every year, I dread February. But March usually brings some relief. Even though it’s still winter, the days are obviously getting longer, and spring is coming. March is a often sunny month here in Winnipeg, and most years, I start planning my garden, spending a bit more time outside, and generally perking up after the February slump.

This year, though, I just kept sliding downward despite the longer days, the mild weather, and the promise of spring.

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So Happy Our Paths Crossed

Wendy continues to ask me what I’ve been up to lately. Here’s part of my answer:

A new-to-me friend stopped by the other day. She is familiar with fiber arts, so I introduced her to our studio. She saw the weaving project that my husband was working on, and her jaw dropped as she exclaimed, “You mean, you weave one thread at a time?” I responded, “Yes, and we put yarn on the looms one thread at a time.”

Here is what my loom looks like today. We are around 1/4 of the way done “threading” my loom, for a jacket, putting one thread at a time through the reed that spaces the threads evenly, and the heddles that raise and lower the threads to make the weaving patterns.

threading Grace's loom

A couple of days ago, my (grownup) son saw one of my handwoven towels with new eyes. He asked me if I had ever considered selling them at craft fairs. I had. I cringed from a flash of memory of summers as a teenager selling my work in hot, open areas, and people walking around with dripping ice cream cones, and greasy fingers from hot dogs… but they had to touch my fabrics and baskets to fully appreciate them.

I told him that I had a hard time imagining someone paying the market price for one — $50 — when you can buy some at the Dollar Store. He agreed and responded, “How much does one cost you to make?” I calculated around $2 because I use mill ends (leftovers from huge fabric mills). He said, “Well, then, you can sell them for $12 or $15!” I said that each one takes around a full day of work to make. He slumped with understanding.

You can understand now why I don’t sell them and only give them as gifts.

Theresa blogged about one of the towels that I made. After you read it, you can understand why I enjoy giving them as gifts.

Towel from Grace

CatTail Creative

When Chuck and I caught the ceramics bug and set up our studio last summer, we started out with reckless abandon.  We spent the evenings and weekends making anything and everything that we wanted to try and, in a matter of weeks, we started to find ourselves buried in beautiful pieces with nowhere to go with them all.

Being a kitchen designer by trade, I can’t stand disarray. A good design deserves to be seen and used without being cluttered. The same goes for a harmonious color palette. Although we created some beautiful pieces, they weren’t always what complimented the decor of our home…or our friends’ homes…or our family’s homes…or our neighbors’ homes…

It became very apparent very quickly that if we wanted to keep making ceramics, we needed to start selling ceramics. Before long, we were learning how to sell on Etsy.

That is where we met Grace.

One day Grace solicited us to make her some winter…

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Infinity Dreams Award

Wendy notified me of a blog post that was so inspiring, I couldn’t resist the urge to update you on what I’ve been up to. Thank you Wendy!

Rules for the Infinity Dreams Award:

Please note: nominees are not obligated to accept this award. You may simply accept the nomination with a note of appreciation. However, if you want to accept the award, please follow the rules.

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and make sure you link back.
  • Post the award badge and rules.
  • Tell 11 facts about yourself.
  • Answer the questions that were set for you to answer.
  • Nominate 11 other bloggers and set questions for them.

The Requisite 11 Facts About Myself

  1. Like Wendy, I love to dance. When I was little, my favorite stage was the silver screen of the portable black-and-white TV reflecting my moves. My body always moves when I hear music, and in my head I see exciting choreography.
  2. Like Wendy, when I was a kid, my shower was my favorite stage for singing. I held variety shows with (myself as) many guests. Then, I hosted fashion shows in my medicine cabinet mirror, using my big bath towel. I went on to sing, act, and dance in school and community theater performances.
  3. My dinnertime routine is to watch a movie with my husband. The only live TV show that we watch is the presidential debates. Our library includes old horror flicks, BBC historical dramas, documentaries, West Wing, Newsroom, Neil Simon, Gilbert & Sullivan, opera, concerts, ballet… No blood or crime. We are always looking for more good ones, especially that are inspiring. Please share titles of your favorites in the Comments box at the end of this post.
    comment box
  4. My resume could be as long as the title of this award implies: infinite dreams. It includes (roughly in chronological order) managing weaving studios, sales in a variety of businesses, costume design, resort management, waitressing, beekeeping, assisting rehabilitation therapists, career counseling, high-level customer service for a huge international corporation, website and database development, income tax preparation, licensed financial advising, and laboring at an organic farm. I enjoyed every job, and only moved on when I couldn’t see any way to stay.
  5. A year or so ago, we took shirts to a tailor for altering. Even after I returned them three times, they were still poorly stitched. I had stopped sewing before CDs, PCs, cell phones, and camcorders existed. My husband took me to look at sewing machines, and I fell in love with one. During this past year, I have been getting up to date on new sewing technology, e.g., my new electronic machine, rotary cutters, .pdf patterns, and a custom-padded dress form. I am delighted by the generous sewists sharing online. I am anticipating discovering serging and software. Now you know where I’ve been since you last saw me here.
  6. I think that I have resolved my lifelong love/hate relationship with art. I always saw it as taking away resources from feeding the world. This summer, I realized that art has a huge impact on people’s environments, which affects health and productivity. I’m wondering what your relationship is with art.
  7. I used to feel equally at home in New York City as I was in the wilderness of National Parks, but now that I’ve been living in a rural area for over 15 years, this is home. Its woods brings back fond memories of my first camping experiences as a Girl Scout.
  8. My latest greatest discovery is Andrew Johnson’s mp3s, Android apps, and videos. I also found his work on Spotify, Amazon, and iTunes. I hope that you will share in the Comments (below) any meditation practices that you recommend.
  9. Because I’m so focused when working on a project, I don’t hear when someone is talking to me.
  10. My husband says that one of the first things that he discovered about me was that everything that I do is deliberate.
  11. (I deliberately avoided this item.)

My Responses to Wendy’s Questions:

  1. Do you love your career or work?
    Yes. See Fact #4.
  2. Name your favourite author or book?
    My favorite one is usually the one that I’m reading, and I’m always reading several. I most recently began reading Sandra Betzina’s Fabric Savvy.
  3. What’s your guilty pleasure?
    Binging on snack food when I’m tired. Usually, I eat healthier than almost anyone whom you have heard of.
  4. Who inspires you and why?
    Wendy inspired me to return to WordPress to accept this award.
  5. Favourite food?
    Freshly-picked organic vegetables from our garden.
    Fresh-picked from our organic gardens
  6. Relate your good or disastrous travel experience.
    When I took my first college English class, I tried to tell my disastrous story about the first time that I went to Girl Scout camp. I got a bad grade because it was “anticlimactic”. I’d love to figure out a way to tell the tale in a more engaging way.
    One of my best travel experiences was being the youngest kid in a YMCA tour bus full of young teenagers going across the country, staying at college dorms and campgrounds.
  7. Sunset or sunrise?
    Sunrise. I don’t like staying up late enough to enjoy a sunset.
  8. Your favourite pastime.
    Right now, sewing, but I hope that writing will regain its place in my life.
  9. Who would you like to accompany you on any adventure?
    My husband. He is the best friend I have ever had.
  10. Something you did that your parents don’t know about.
    Lots. I can tell you now that I wished that I had accepted my father’s offer to use his influence to put me in a position at Lincoln Center’s theater, but if I did that then I probably wouldn’t be where I am in life, and I love where I am.
  11. If you were the President/Prime Minister/King or Queen what particular policy would you change in your country?
    I am loving what I’m hearing Bernie Sanders saying (during the U.S. Presidential debates) about everyone receiving health care, education, fair wages, fair trials with appropriate consequences, citizenship… the American Dream.

My Nominations for the Infinity Dreams Award

Wendy’s nomination brought me out of the woodwork. Therefor, for this award I selected some of my favorite bloggers who haven’t been posting lately. (listed in the reverse order of their disappearance)

Let’s see if we can bring these bloggers back with our visits, Likes, Shares, and Comments.

The Zombies Ate My Brains Maggie last posted on September 27, 2015. I miss the adventurous stories of this darling person.

Spirit In Action Ohnwentsya last posted on August 11, 2015. I miss the weekly digest of important stories from across the web.

The Truth Shall Set You Free Sydney last posted on June 23, 2015. I miss the insights into Social Justice in post-Apartheid South Africa.

Passing and Failing in Paradise Last post: June 3, 2015. I miss the insight into gender issues.

Unload and Unwind Jennifer last posted on May 10, 2015. I miss the stories, and perspective on social justice in Australia.

TG or Not TG? That Is The Question Rachael last posted on April 6, 2015. I miss the perspective on gender issues.

Yesterday Unhinged Aaron last posted on March 22, 2014. I miss the perspective on history.

Graphomania William last posted on February 11, 2015. I miss the poetic perspective on issues that we all face.

‘Ritings, Ramblings… Ronda last posted on November 12, 2014. I miss her serial novel titled, “Amigarumi”.

Three Dancing Flowers Last post: July 22, 2014. I miss reading about the experiences with Bipolar Disorder.

Greyling Falah last posted on May 16, 2014. I miss the inspiration.

JMGajda I think that I last heard from Jessica over a year ago. I miss the friendship, and stories of dystopia and social justice.

My Questions for My Nominees

What is one goal that you want to work on in 2016? What is your plan for accomplishing it? Why is it so important? How can we readers help?

I hope that you, readers, will also consider answering this question in the Comments section.

Wrap-up

My most recent post to my blog was half a year ago, when I shared my latest excerpt from my River Novel. My characters continue with their lives, and I look forward to continuing to share them with you.

In the meantime, people still stop by my blog almost every day, and I continue getting new (legitimate) followers!

Thank you to all of you who helped me get my blog up and rolling, and who have been keeping it alive with visits, likes, comments, and shares. Remember to share that attention with my nominees.

Burning A Bristly Relationship

I watered the bush each day
that I had water.
I shone all the light on it
that I found in me,
and said, “See how well it grows!”

Our relationship grew thorns that tangled in the arid heat,
and resilient prickers in the rain of my tears.
It shadowed my heart.
Its roots plugged my veins,
and died at midnight.

Its skeleton in me:
tinder flared
fire flashed.
Recovery blew away ash.
I see a world beyond.

Burning Relationship
Image credits:
Burning Brush, by Grace Buchanan. Composition elements:
Flames and Brush, by Michael Pollak. Used under Creative Commons License BY-2.0.
Apfelbaum in Alberschwende, by böhringer friedrich. Used under Creative Commons License BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons.

Happy Mental Health Month!

May is Mental Health month here. I am practicing dealing with my anger:

  • Don’t tell anyone what to do
  • Get in touch with what I am feeling and what I’m wanting
  • Tell someone how I’m feeling
  • Focus on what I can do to get what I want